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Crime and Aileen Wuornos
Criminal theories based on biological, psychological, sociological, and socio-psychological factors have been constructed in an attempt to better identify the causes of crime and what drives an individual to behave in a deviant manner. While data on male serial killers is prevalent, the data and statistics available in regards to female serial killers are extremely limited. One of the most well-known female serial killers, in recent years, is Aileen Wuornos whose criminal career was thrown into the spotlight with the 2003 film Monster. Wuornos is the first convicted female serial killer in the United States; she was subsequently executed in 2002 for her crimes.
Aileen Wuornos is considered to be the first predatory female serial killer in the U.S. And there are many factors that may have led her to develop criminal behaviors. Wuornos was born on February 29, 1956 to Diane Wuornos and Leo Pittman…
Arrigo, B. (2006). Criminal Behavior: A Systems Approach. Upper Saddle Creek: Pearson
Arrigo, B. And Griffin, A. (2004). Serial Murder and the Case of Aileen Wuornos: Attachment
Theory, Psychopathy, and Predatory Aggression. Behavioral Sciences and the Law, 22, 375-393.
Dr. Gary Kaniuk
Consultation Triage & Testimony in Forensic Psychology
Female Serial Killers -- An ntroduction
The heinous act of murder has been outlawed by various authorities, states, jurisdictions, and by many religions for thousands of years. One of the best known of the Ten Commandments ("Thou Shalt Not Kill") is explicitly clear on killing. But when the perpetrator kills more than one person, and continues the killing at intervals, it is called serial killing and that is the subject of this research.
given that only one out of every six serial killers is female, there has been a lack of understanding and also a lack of empirical research that leads to a better understanding of these hideous crime sprees by females. That dearth of knowledge should be supplemented with more research.
Female Serial Killers -- Data & Histories in the Literature
The Federal Bureau of nvestigation (FB)…
In their research the authors reference Hickey (1986) who studied 34 cases of female serial killers between the years 1795 and 1988; half of those serial killers had a male accomplice and the average age of the women was 33 years. Six of the 34 women were nurses, which fits the FBI category "angel of death" (Frei, 169). The authors also reference studies by Wilson and Hilton (1998), who analyzed 105 female serial killers; they found that the "preferred means of killing was poisoning" (Frei, 169). Meanwhile a study of 86 cases in the U.S. (Kelleher and Kelleher, 1998) found that the most common victims were "...children, the elderly or spouses"; the majority of women doing the killing in these cases were "black widows" and they had active killing sprees that lasted more than ten years (Frei, 169). Why do women become serial killers? "Psychopathic traits and grossly abusive childhood experiences" have consistently been described as reasons for these crimes in both male and female serial murderers (Frei, 169).
The Case of Aileen Wuornos
Aileen Wuornos is a notorious serial killer whose story can be found in many journals and law enforcement documents. In the Journal of Criminal Justice Research & Education the authors describe Wuornos as the "first predatory female serial killer" who was a Florida prostitute and killed the men she picked up as "Johns" (Weatherby, et al., 2008). In a twelve-month period -- from December, 1989 to November, 1990 -- it was reported that Wuornos killed seven male "johns" (Weatherby). After being charged with six
upport for this contention comes from the observation that male offenders too are comparatively lightly punished when domestic abuse is involved.
Other factors, however, indicate greater complexity. treib (1990), for instance, showed that confounding factors for deserving the death sentence include the offender's prior record for committing crimes; premeditation of the crime; and her potential for future violent crimes. Women are less likely to represent or possess these characteristics than men and, therefore, subsequently are figured less often on Death Row.
However, it is also very likely that simple sexism plays a part. This is particularly likely when it is seen that those tending more towards the death penalty - i.e. more conservative, Republican, white-male dominated groups -- are also less strongly against women receiving this penalty. In fact, these groups have sometimes even prominently militated against women receiving the death sentence, as was the case with Pat Robertson and…
Baker, David V. (1999). A Descriptive Profile and Socio-Historical Analysis of Female Executions in the United States: 1632- 1997, Women and Criminal Justice 57
Bakken, G.M. (2010). Invitation to an Execution: A History of the Death Penalty in the United States. USA:University of New Mexico Press
Banner, Stuart (2002). The Death Penalty: An American History. Harvard University Press
Crocker, P. (2001), Is the Death Penalty Good for Women, Buffalo Criminal Law Review 917
Thus, the television shows, or their producers would have us think, do not actually promote violence and sexual promiscuity, they simply depict it as part of the reality of the particular people they chose to show on their programs.
The problem, however, comes with what such depictions teach those people for whom identity is yet to be determined - our youngest boys and girls. Before MTV's the Real orld, popular culture's images of boys and girls was managed through a scripted experience - a lens that showed only what the writers, directors, producers, and television executives wanted you to see. Therefore, shows gave people what other people thought they should and would like, and nothing else. hat reality shows have capitalized on is a hunger for the non-scripted, for the spontaneous, for the unpredictable. and, as society is still managed by people who were brought up by people who generally…
Adams, N.G. (2005, Spring). Growing Up Female. NWSA Journal, 206(6).
Clark, T. (2008, March 24). Let's Misbehave. Multichannel News, p. 14.
Mantilla, K. (2003, Aug-Sept). Boys Girls will be Boys. Off Our Backs, 48(8).
Moss, L. (2007, June 25). The Good Fight. Multichannel News, 28 (26), p. 20.